Anyone here know of a diagnosed case of mega-colon in guinea pigs by an experienced vet? If so, do you know any details of the treatment? (outcome, diagnosis, etc.)
- And got the T-shirt
"Guinea pigs sometimes develop what vets will call a 'mega-colon', an overly enlarged intestinal track that will overwhelm the ability of the anal sphincter to control feces production. The sphincter will lose muscle tone, which will cause a buildup of fecal matter in the large intestine. In time, the pressure of the buildup may cause the walls of the intestine to burst, creating a nearly-always fatal case of peritonitis to form. Veterinarians will put your pig on a program of digestive medications and laxatives, and you will be shown how to stimulate the anal opening to encourage defecation."
For one thing, the above confuses me as the sphincter controls the elimination of poops. If it loses muscle tone, one would think they'd pass out more easily. And I don't ever remember impaction causing the intestine to burst (implies in the middle of the tract, not the end).
Then there is the complication that there are two kinds of poops - one that is soft and reingested and the other that is just passed.
- You can quote me
Our very first pig, Sir Barnabas Jerome of Furry Face, was diagnosed by a cavy-knowledgeable vet with a condition called acquired megacolon. This is probably most similar to the same kind of condition in rats. A "stretched out" colon, where waste material can accumulate, is probably a rough and simple description.
He defecated in cycles -- that is, large, soft clumps; then something fairly normal, then very very tiny, then none at all until I worked a large compacted mass of tiny feces out of his perianal sac. Then the process began again.
He liked hay but it gave him fits. He couldn't digest or pass it. We gave him unlimited (and I do mean unlimited; we went through two heads of lettuce a DAY, and no, that is not a typo) greens; some fruits, some Critical Care, and pellet stew.
He lived for four (4) years with this condition. He felt lousy when he felt lousy, and felt good when he didn't. He had a very strong personality and character, without which I doubt he would have made it as long, or as well, as he did.
We gave him Reglan on occasion. We tried Cisapride and it very nearly caused him seizures. Cisapride works on the lower GI and may help this condition, but use it with **extreme** caution.
- Supporter in '15
Laxatives? That sounds creepy.
- Little Jo Wheek
- You can quote me
In all cases it seemed to develop or initiate from being overfed greens. Rather than the normal loose stool that firms up once greens are eliminated for a while or reduced, these animals seemed to retain a sensitivity to certain types of foods and when fed those foods, would pack up (for lack of a better way to put it), eliminate a smelly glob or globs of stuff, then normalize for a bit, then pack back up.
In our experience the best way to handle it was to severely limit, or eliminate, the trigger foods. The vet that initially explained this to us gave me the impression it compared somewhat to a balloon with a weak spot or spots, so in blowing it up you'd get a place where the balloon hyperexpanded and thus trapped the air blown in (if that makes any sense) until fully deflated. With digestive material, the trapped material will begin to go into ileus (soft, overfermented, smelly).
JamieNov -- "laxatives" is creepy to me too. If you substitute "judicious use of motility agent appropriate for a cavy" (i.e., Reglan), then okay IMO.